Durango elementary school teacher awarded $25K by the Milken Foundation

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DURANGO, C.O. – Last week, a fifth-grade math teacher at Needham Elementary School in Durango got a surprise of a lifetime. She was awarded the Milken Educator Award.

Tiffany Miera said she thought she was attending an award assembly just for students. 

Little did she know, they were there for her. 

“Our award, we’re looking for those individuals do an outstanding job every day and not seeking any type of award but really advancing their students,” said Lowell Milken, founder of the Milken Educator Award. 

This national honor comes with a $25,000 cash prize.

“I kind of was like– I almost didn’t know what to do I was in shock, ‘wait was that my name?’ like is that for real? I kind of looked at my teammate and was like, what do I do? And she was like ‘go up there!’” Miera said.

Even though Miera is not a big fan of crowds, she hoped the moment inspires the children. 

“We talk to the kids all the time about working hard for the things you want, and working hard to be successful, and reach your goals. It’s like trying to lead by example, that hard work can bring some pretty cool things,” said Miera. 

And that’s what the award is all about. 

“I’ve gotten wonderful letters from individuals who were students at a notification who told me that they went into education and became an educator themselves years later,” said Milken.

And as for the $25,000? 

“I got a master’s in special education from Grand Canyon a couple years back, and I just recently got another master’s from South Eastern Oklahoma in educational leadership, so I actually still need to pay both of those off,” Miera said. 

The Milken Family Foundation is traveling around the country delivering these awards to recipients, and they also gave a little hint that something exciting may be coming to New Mexico.